Truck drivers are the backbone of America. Without truck drivers we wouldn’t have the products that we use every day. From the building materials that we use to construct our homes to the food that we eat, everything is shipped and delivered by truck drivers. A 4,200 mile trip across the country probably doesn’t sound like much to you, but Greg Mahle makes the journey twice a month.
Mahle doesn’t carry the goods and supplies that support our country; his cargo is more precious than that. Each time Mahle makes a cross country trip he picks up dozens of dogs that are in need of good homes. He runs an organization called Rescue Road Trips, which matches abandoned animals from the southern U.S. with their new owners living in the northern part of the country.
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There is a much higher number of abandoned animals in the South than there are in the North. The amount of available pets is higher, but the need isn’t, meaning there is a higher euthanasia rate in the South as well. Mahle spent 30 years working in the restaurant business before he decided to start chauffeuring dogs to their new owners. He saw the supply and demand crisis in the dog rescue industry, and decided to do something about it.
Still not impressed? Wait until you hear the breakdown of Mahle’s week.
He leaves his home in Ohio each Monday morning with a fellow driver, Tommy, in the passenger seat. The pair head south through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and into Texas. While in the lone star state, they pick up abandoned dogs from rescue groups and local veterinarians. The duo takes turns driving, only stopping to eat and rest.
The return trip takes them through Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. They can carry as many as 85 dogs in Mahle’s trailer. Once they’re loaded, they make the trip north to New England. By Friday afternoon they are in Pennsylvania, and their last stop is Massachusetts. On Sunday Maule and his driving partner head back home, where they stay for a week to rest, clean the trailer, and field more adoption phone calls. The following Monday they are back on the road again.
A journalist who happened to adopt a dog from Rescue Road Trips, Peter Zheutlin, has even written a book about Mauhle’s adventures called Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway. Mahle says the job isn’t as glamorous as some may think. The dogs need to be let out along the way, and who do you think is responsible for that?
“Everybody sees the dogs and thinks I’ve just scooped them all out of a shelter and I’m just out giving them away. That’s not true. I try to explain to them that I’m like the UPS driver. All of my packages came from a destination and are going to a destination. You can’t just walk up to the UPS driver and ask for a package because it’s not yours.”
He says that he has designated stops along the way where he meets up with “Angels.” These Angels help him tend to the dogs, and he often has as many angels as he has dogs on the truck. This means that each canine gets one on one attention and gets to spend hours outside the truck playing with his angel. Mahle says this calms the dogs and helps them to realize that everything is going to be okay.
If you ask me, Mahle is a hero. He’s a hero to the dogs that he is saving from euthanization, and he is a hero to the families who are lucky enough to adopt one of his dogs. The world needs more people like Greg Mahle.